What else does God want from us? 1


Part 1 – What does God want from us? pointed out arguably the number one thing.  If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to check it out.

Here – we look at a second thing God wants from us.  It’s so important that without it – the first one is pretty much irrelevant.

Have you figured out what it is?

 

 This series was originally from July of 2011.  As mentioned, this is part two.  Part three will be the flip side – what does God want for us.  After all – this is a two way relationship – if we do it right.

So here it is – with updates in rust colored italics.


 Three weeks ago, I wrote about how God wants our love.

Two weeks ago, I was going to write this article – but the web hosting site was down. It didn’t get written.

Last week, I was going to try to write this article again – but the Dragons in Heaven thing happened. This article didn’t get written – again.

Now it’s three weeks later – it’s going to get written (unless something else happens this morning) – but in a rather different way than it would have 3 weeks ago. Which I think means the original concept was correct – this just fine tunes it.

So – have you figured out what else God wants from us?

 Time.

Our time.
In His way.

You can hopefully see where “time” might be important.  We can feel all the love we want for someone – even for God – but if we don’t take the time to say it and show it – does it really matter?  Think about your parents – did they love you and take the time to show you – and how did that impact you?  If you have kids – think about them – do you love them and take the time to show them – and how do you think it impacts them?  It’s no different with God.  He’s our “Father” – and we’re invited to be His “kids”.  And with Jesus – there’s an invitation for a relationship – as in a friend.  The same thinking applies there.  So yeah – time is really important.  So let’s continue.

The idea for this actually got started back at the end of May – although I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with it. I had sent myself 2 notes from reading Nehemiah.

 The 1st was Nehemiah 9:26-37 –

Ne 9:26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they put your law behind their backs. They killed your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies. So you handed them over to their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.

Ne 9:28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.

Ne 9:29 “You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples. But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

Ne 9:32 “Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings and leaders, upon our priests and prophets, upon our fathers and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong. Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them. Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.

Ne 9:36 “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.

The 2nd was Nehemiah 10:32-33 –

Ne 10:32 “We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God: for the bread set out on the table; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moon festivals and appointed feasts; for the holy offerings; for sin offerings to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of our God.

These are about spending time with God – doing what He wanted His people to do. When they didn’t do it – they ended up as slaves. But even when things were bad – they realized that if they return to God – He will hear them – and He will take care of them. And, unlike so often today – they realized that they had a responsibility to do this.

Obviously today – we don’t do the sacrifices and offerings that are talked about in chapter 10. Today, we tend to think of going to church on Sunday – and tithing. Do that – and we’re OK – we’d like to think.

I have to another thought here, that doesn’t entirely fit in with the original theme – but it really strikes me as important.
In the brief time that I’ve been posting at WordPress (only a couple months), both new stuff and moving over older posts like this one, I’ve really noticed a great deal of what seems to be real hatred and contempt from atheists. They know the Bible very well.  At least they know the words.  I don’t think they really “know” it at all.  There’s something missing.  I’ve started to address that in a series of posts that start with the name of “The problem of …”.  There’s a couple up now – more are coming.  Those posts will talk about maybe why they don’t get it.  And even for us as Christians – how we can have a deeper understanding.  But part of what they tend to do it take the sentences of the Bible that show God’s wrath.  Like maybe this one sentence from above –Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them.  But proceed to ignore the rest of the verse – Ne 9:28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time. The people could have avoided all of that.  But they chose to do exactly what God told them not to do.  And then they get mad at God for doing exactly what He told them He would do!
And then they (the atheists) proceed to hate God (who they claim doesn’t even exist) – hate Christians – and spend an unbelievable amount of time trying to convince others that they are right.  But the words are in plain sight – for all to see.  They will spend so much time railing against God.  But they won’t take the time to actually do what the other verses say to do in order to find God’s love.  And then they wonder why they have such a negative view of God and why we have such a positive view of Him.  
It’s all right there.  And a lot of it is about time.  And choices.  What do we choose to take the time to do?  
If you find the thought of interest, check out “The Problem of …” posts.

Back to the original –

So that was the start of an idea.
Then I go to a prayer vigil at our church.
There are some verses read – and some things to reflect on related to those verses.

The verses – they’re from Haggai 2:6-9. As an introduction, for those not familiar with Haggai, the following is from All the Books of The Bible

The prophet Haggai preaches to those who have returned from Babylonian captivity and are living in Jerusalem (ca. 520 B.C.). His first oracle (Hag 1:1-11) sets the tone: God’s people have returned to Jerusalem, but the temple still lies desolate (1:9). Thus Israel remains under God’s judgment (1:10-11). The faithful few (e.g., Zerubbabel and Joshua; 1:12-15) become a model for what has to be done to receive God’s promised blessing.

In the second oracle (Hag 2:1-9), the hope for the future is renewed. A temple even more glorious than Solomon’s will be built from the wealth of the nations (2:6-9). This future rebuilding is now the focus of Israel’s trust and confidence in God and his promises. The oracle is addressed to Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, who as the scion of the house of David is heir to the messianic promise (2 Sam 7:14-16). The time is ripe for fulfillment.

And the verses that were read at the vigil –

Hag 2:6 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

And finally – the reflection that hit me and connected this to the passages in Nehemiah –

What do I need to notice?

That question – what do I need to notice – reminded me of something that I finally learned after many years of being quite unhappy with what (I thought) God was doing to me. The thing I finally realized – was that I shouldn’t be asking why are You doing this to me – I should have been looking for the answer to what am I supposed to learn from this?
That slightly different question – it lead to such a dramatic change for me – in the way I looked at things – and even in the things that happened in my life.
So I saw that question about what do I need to notice – and never even read the rest of the reflections on the page. That was all I needed to see.

What I noticed was time. More properly – maybe timing.
His time – not mine – not ours.

Things were pretty messed up when both Nehemiah and Haggai were writing.
Things are pretty messed up now.

But – God wanted His people to be with Him then –
and He wants us to be with Him now.

The passages above indicate that He wanted us to be with Him before – in the past –
and that we can be with Him in the future.

But –
the past is gone – it’s too late to have been with Him at some point back in time that’s already gone by.
the future isn’t here yet – it’s not possible for us to be with Him in a time that hasn’t arrived yet. God may transcend time – but we, as humans, don’t.

No – the only time we can be with Him is “now”.
And as soon as I’ve typed “now” – or you’ve read “now” – it’s gone.

In Haggai 1:3-11 – the Lord Almighty tells Haggai what to say to the people about how to rebuild His house –

Hag 1:3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

Hag 1:5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

Hag 1:7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

They have to do something – not just live their own lives for themselves – but do something – for God. And not just the sacrifices and offerings – not just go to church on Sunday and put the correct amount in the offering plate as it goes by.

God wants their time. His house – the rebuilding of the temple – is an outward sign that something’s happening – but I believe what He really wanted was their time – for them to live their lives for Him and not just for themselves. Because – ultimately the Temple being talked about here – that was going to come in the future – that was Jesus. And Jesus clearly wants all of us – our love – and our time.

Back up a bit and return to Nehemiah.
Same thing – He wants their time.
If they spend their time with God – they won’t be doing all the other evil things.

Now – fast forward to the present time. To “now” … and “now” …

There’s this saying about how people today want it all – and they want it now!

Maybe that’s a sign that we’re a “chip off the old block”?
Maybe that’s because we’re made in God’s image?

Maybe that a sign that
Things were pretty messed up when both Nehemiah and Haggai were writing.
Things are pretty messed up now.

But – God wanted His people to be with Him then –
and He wants us to be with Him now.

God wants us – all of us – and He wants us NOW – every single now that has existed, does currently exist and will ever exist into eternity.

We want it all – and we want it now. A corrupted version of what it should have been:
We want Him all – and we want Him now – every single now that has existed, does currently exist and will ever exist into eternity.

Time – that what else God wants from us.

Timing – that’s important too.

The reason I brought up all the “difficulties” in writing this particular article – had I written it two weeks ago – or last week – it wouldn’t have been what it is today.

Just coming up on the music side – Ronnie Milsap – an old country song called “Pure Love”. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Pure Love – now and for always – all the time.

What do you need to notice?

 

Now that I’ve reached the end, I noticed something else about the atheist position.  It’s all based on the past.  Actually – selected excerpts from the past.  The ones chosen to make God look as bad as possible.  The ones that leave out the good parts.  The ones that leave out the warnings and the instructions on how to avoid the bad parts in the first place.  The ones about how Israel was supposed to be a light to bring other people to God.  The ones that show over and over again the patience of God and the rescue He provides to His people when they finally remember Him.  Why would one choose to live in the past – a past during which they didn’t exist – a past that they cannot do anything about – and pay the price for living in that past that they can’t do anything about – when they can avoid all of those issues and live in the present?  Maybe pride won’t let them see the obvious solution.  Maybe there are things they need to notice.
BTW – if you haven’t noticed – we need to pray for them.  For their present – and their future.

 

God image from piperbasenji.blogspot.com
Time image from sdvanaleigh.wordpress.com

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